Lee Watts died Sept. 15, 1997 due to complications from surgery at Deaconness Hospital in St. Louis. He was 75 years old. Visitation was held from 2-9 pm Sept. 17 at Kutis New South County Chapel, Lemay Ferry & Butler Hill Roads. The funeral was at 12:30 pm on Thurs., Sept. 18 at Kutis. Interment was at National Cemetery(Jefferson Barracks.) A reception in Lee's honor was held at his church, Zion United Methodist in Affton, following interment.
Lee Watts, the man with the big hands who loved to wiggle his ears; Lee Watts, the Shriner in a dune buggy; Lee Watts, the churchgoer who loved to sit in the second row, right hand side on the aisle; Lee Watts, the character who frequently had that toothpick in his mouth... This man was born in 1922 to Louis Watts--a U.S. Navy veteran serving overseas, and the former Therese Arnst--a homemaker. Lee was given the name Lemoyne Joseph--the "Lemoyne" was his father's middle name. His birthplace was Coblenz, Germany, where Louis Watts was stationed at the time. As a very small child, Lee would return with his family to America--where Dad Watts, in time, began working for Union Electric...and of course, where Lee would also end up being employed for 35 years. Like so many in his generation, Lee did not have the benefit of a full formal education, going up through the 8th grade--where his teachers--at least so I hear--had their hands full. Playful, even then. Lee enlisted in the Navy, like his dad before him, and was assigned to a ship in the Atlantic during World War II. Early in the war, at the age of 20, he married Gerry Drisdall. The couple had five children, four who survived to adulthood--three boys and one girl. After the war, again like his dad, Lee went to work for U-E...eventually becoming a supervisor. Lee's children remember camping trips with Dad and traveling in the car alot--seeing the country. Lake of the Ozarks was a favorite location. He loved being in the Shrine....and especially being with his friends in the motor patrol. Lee's wife and the mother of his children, Gerry, would die of cancer in 1980. And Lee was miserable. He desired a companion, a spouse, someone to love and who would love him. And so he began to date. His good friends, Don & Shirley Becker, say they knew when Lee had found who he was looking for. Lee and the Beckers have been friends for a long time--and they'd get together for dinner....Lee would bring along the woman he was dating at the time. There weren't many, but there were a few. Because of their long friendship, Lee would spend most of his time at these dinners talking to Don & Shirley--and not much time conversing with his date. But when Lee brought Ginny to dinner, well, things were different. Alot different. He had eyes for Ginny and she had his full attention. And the Becker knew right then that Ginny would be the one. Lee and Ginny actually met on a blind date very late in 1981, just a few days before New Years. Met at a house party; Lee was wearing a cast, as Ginny recalls. One of the many surgeries Lee endured in his life. It was the time in St. Louis when there was about 17 inches on the ground. Lee and Ginny got on well that night. They had some things in common--the fact that they were both widowers and both had friends in the motor patrol were just two of them. They dated ten months and married in October 1982. Lee was not easily offended--he could laugh at himself. He was thrifty and prompt--paying a bill many times the same day it came to the house. While thrifty, he could also splurge--Ginny recalls traveling to some beautiful places with Lee--going to Hawaii, Alaska, through Europe. He liked to fish, liked to play cards--especially gin and poker, and liked getting together with his friends in the Shrine. He enjoyed stirring things up--pushing people's buttons--which he did pretty well. He loved going to church in his last years--and didn't miss worship unless sick. He loved the camaraderie at the church Fish Fries. Lee was a man who knew what he wanted. He knew Ginny was the woman he wanted to marry. He also knew some other things--he knew he wanted dinner at noon and lunch at 5. When he went out to eat, he wanted his soup boiling hot--and if it wasn't, he'd threaten to send it back. "I know what I want," he'd say. HIs children recall his advice not to make the mistakes he made--advice many parents try to give their kids. He encouraged them to save...to prepare for a rainy day. Lee showed his love and caring more by example, by what he did....than by spoken affection. There wasn't anything about Lee Watts that was small....oh, sure....you can talk about the big ears and the big hands and the tall, lanky physique. But he was big in other ways--when he worked at U-E, he was no shrinking violet--he had a presence at his work and those who worked for him knew what he wanted. In his family, in the Shrine, in his church--he was a social man, ready to laugh and join in the fun. He was decisive--he was able to make a decision and was impatient with those who couldn't. He was big in that he didn't walk timidly in his life, but cut a swath--you knew he was around. He made you know what he wanted. He was Lee Watts--a husband, a widower, a husband again--a father, grandfather, a great-grandfather, a brother-in-law, a Navy man, a Shriner, a member of the motor patrol, a frequent hospital patient--who bounced back often from major surgery, a fisherman, a card-player, a faithful attender at church, and a worker at the Fish Fries. A man who paid his bills, who enjoyed a good meal, and who loved his friends and family. He was Lee Watts and now he is part of our memories. Born May 17, 1922....died September 15, 1997. Thanks be to Go for his life and what he meant to our lives. --Rev. Jeff Long, Pastor, Zion United Methodist Church, Affton, MO
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